PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- The Penguins learned Saturday night that their first round playoff opponent will be the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review told Tab Douglas and Stacy Kauffman that it won’t be an easy series for the Pens.
“I will warn you: the Blue Jackets have been playing playoff hockey for months now and the Penguins have not,” Yohe said. “This is a team that has gotten used to playing pressure packed games. So I don’t think this is some cakewalk for the Penguins, but on paper there’s no question this is the best match-up.”
Douglas asked Yohe which player, outside of the stars, needs to step up in the playoffs. Yohe selected Brandon Sutter, especially if the club advances to the later rounds.
“They’re going to need a presence in the middle of the ice to play against some of these centers that Boston has, and if they get to the Final, they’re going to have to deal with a team that has a good third line,” Yohe said. “Brandon Sutter’s the guy who can make it happen. And he’s been much better in the past couple of weeks; I’ve been encouraged by what I’ve seen from him.”
Kris Letang returned to the Pens lineup last week for the first time since January after suffering a stroke. Yohe is impressed with Letang’s first two games back.
“I’m really encouraged,” Yohe said. “I think he’s given the team a bit of an emotional lift too because certainly there was a time I think when nobody really expected him to play again this season. I couldn’t be more impressed with what I’ve seen from him.”